NATO governments must ask themselves why they have pushed the confrontation with Russia so far with, among other things, the eastward expansion of the military alliance, the promotion of colour revolutions and the support of extreme right-wing forces. They must also ask themselves why more and more actors worldwide are no longer submitting to their increasingly authoritarian and arrogant policies.
Peace in the region can only be achieved if the legitimate security interests of Ukraine, Russia and the EU states are heard and negotiated at eye level. A joint global security architecture with Russia and China would be a way out, instead of further aggravation of the dangerous situation through arms deliveries and confrontation policies laden with enemy stereotypes and the further arming of NATO.
The decisions of the majority of parties in the German Bundestag to supplement the military budget with a grant of 100 billion euros (twice the annual military budget) and to supply weapons on a large scale to Ukraine are disastrous. This fuels the conflict and risks a major global war, in the worst case with nuclear escalation. As a hub for arms shipments, my home city of Hamburg could also quickly become a target. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced in a government declaration “a turning point in the history of the continent”. The defence budget is to be increased to around 75 billion euros via a special fund. One hundred billion euros will now be made available for the Bundeswehr financed by debt. The domestic economical product is to be increased to up to 3% for armaments and the military – money that could instead be used for education, social security and health care and the conversion of weapons factories into civilian ones. Germany is also supplying armoured vehicles, anti-tank weapons and surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine. War is good for business and for the arms companies. Their stock prices are reaching new record highs.
It is important to understand that the US government has not been interested in the fact that the EU and Russia have been co-existing peacefully for decades. In the current global economic crisis, one possible path for the US is to instigate a major war to boost arms exports and provide the “impetus” for the necessary capital purge to overcome the crisis. This is cynical. The governments of the central states of the EU also seem to go along with this course, even though it may lead to self-destruction. It has become apparent that Scholz and Macron, rather than Biden, have been trying to prevent the situation from escalating in dialogue with the Russian government – but not seriously enough.
The majority of people in Ukraine, Russia and Europe, on the other hand, want peace and not a bloodbath. However, peace will not come about if one tries to use the people’s longing for peace to mobilise unconditional support for the Ukrainian government and to propagate historically oblivious ascriptions of guilt. We have to recognize that fascists are involved in the Ukrainian government. The Ukrainian government does not stand for democracy; on the contrary, it has systematically broken the Minsk-2 agreement under international law, oppressed minorities, integrated fascist regiments like Azov into the Ukrainian army, continuously shelled civilian areas in the Donbass and declared the Nazi collaborator Bandera a people’s hero. Both the last president Poroshenko and the current Zelensky have called the people of the Donbass subhuman or inferior and both have pursued policies accordingly. Instead of enabling a federal system for Ukraine that includes the Donbass, as envisaged in Minsk-2, they have put in place laws that prevent a federal system and a peace process and have continued the attacks on the Donbass. Result: more than 13000 dead since 2014.
Our solidarity should be with all people in Ukraine equally – those in the west of the country, as well as in the Donbass. All people worldwide have a right to peace.
Here we can see a problem with the peace demonstrations currently organised by those in power. The peace movement, with its goal of stopping arms exports, disarmament, conversion of arms production and worldwide international understanding as well as a consequent peace policy, is being led ad absurdum by the fact that peace is now being defined as solidarity with Ukraine. Including the delivery of weapons to a state that is behind the curtains at least in large parts controlled by fascists.
Why did such large-scale demonstrations not take place when Turkey, together with Islamist mercenaries, invaded Afrin or attacked northern Iraq, including the multiple use of chemical weapons? Why weren’t they mobilised in the same way, why weren’t they reported all day on TV, why weren’t the children sent in the streets by their teachers to demonstrate? Why wasn’t pressure put on the Turkish government, why wasn’t Turkey or the USA sanctioned and isolated by the UN during the wars in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan? All these wars were illegal under international law and more brutal than the war in Ukraine so far.
I don’t believe in sanctions anyway – they always affect the populations and not those in power. But the asymmetry of the measures taken is striking. The question is to what extent the UN is neutral or an instrument of NATO. A 180-degree turnaround would be necessary to get out of the escalation of the conflicts. International law and human rights would have to be at the centre of politics and the UN would have to be democratised. Ultimately, however, it will be very difficult to achieve global peace in the capitalist system, because capitalism is also based on the violent implementation of one’s own goals, which in the worst case means authoritarian social formations and war. The First and Second World Wars were triggered by world economic crises. It is our task to prevent the current world economic crisis from leading to a third world war and to work for an immediate end to the wars in Ukraine, Syria/Rojava and several African countries. People and populations have a right to peace and self-determination beyond imperialist aggression. Let us struggle for this together.